What the Sacramento Kings Must Do to Rule California Next Year
The Sacramento Kings are currently the second most popular professional sports team called the “Kings” in California.
While one is playing for the Stanley Cup, the other is in the middle of a terrible slump that started in the 2006-07 season when the team finished fifth in the Pacific division and missed the playoffs. Since the 2006-07 season, the Sacramento Kings have won more than 30 games just twice and have not made the playoffs.
Last year, the Kings won just 22 games and dealt with a stadium issue, which became a huge distraction for the team. There are many things this team can do to return to their early-2000s form and make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Here are some things that the Kings need to do if they want to sit on a throne atop California basketball teams.
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Last season the Kings ranked dead last in points allowed (104.4) in the NBA. It is very hard to win games when you are giving up 100 points on average. If they want to return to the playoffs, they need to do a much better job in the defensive half-court.
A similar system will help out on the defensive end. The Kings have not found their perfect coach since Rick Adelman left. Keith Smart replaced Paul Westphal after just seven games in the 2011-12 season. A full training camp with Keith Smart should help the Kings with their defense. If the Kings can improve on their defense, they will be on their way back as they try to win the Pacific Division.
Consistent Play from Evans and Thomas
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The Kings need to figure out their point guard situation. Tyreke Evans is an outstanding player, but at his height (6’6”), he is an extremely tall point guard. The Kings had solid contribution from their rookie point guard, Isaiah Thomas, who averaged 11.6 points and 4.1 assists. per game. The Kings still finished 26th in the league in assists per game, though.
Evans led the team with 4.5 assists this year, which is clearly not enough for an NBA team. The Kings need more consistent sharing from Thomas and Evans if they want to improve on the court.
Figure out what to do with DeMarcus Cousins
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DeMarcus Cousins can be one of the best big men in basketball when he wants to. He can also drive coaches and an organization crazy with his antics. He is dominant when he is on the court, but spends way too much time in foul trouble.
He needs to improve on his defense and his passing, but he is definitely on his way to be an elite big man in the NBA. The Kings chose him over Paul Westphal earlier in the year, but the Kings should evaluate his trade value and decide if he is more valuable to them in the long-term. If they decide to move on with Cousins, they have a solid center/power forward to build around.
Part Ways with John Salmons
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John Salmons was part of a draft day trade in which the Milwaukee Bucks shipped Salmons to Sacramento. Salmons had a disappointing first year for the Kings. He averaged 27 minutes per game and only scored 7.5 points per game. The Kings hoped that Salmons would be the scorer that he was with the Bucks and the Bulls. The 7.5 points per game was the lowest in Salmons career since he averaged 4.1 in his third year in the NBA.
According to Hoopshype.com, Salmons is the highest paid player on the Kings' roster. He made $8.5 million last year and is due more than $8 million next year. That is a lot of money to devote to a player who averages fewer points than he makes annually. The Kings need to part ways with Salmons in order to free cap space so they are able to make moves in the free agency to fill the team's needs.
Figure out a Stadium Deal
It would be hard for the Kings to become the royalty of California if they do not know where they are playing.
According to ESPN, the Kings, who are trying to build a new “state of the art” arena, is currently having trouble making a deal. The Maloof family and the Sacramento city officials had nearly two days of discussion and still did not make any progress.
According to Sacramento Mayor, Kevin Johnson, the deal is “dead”. If the Kings want to be able to recruit free agents to sign with the team they need to provide stability, so getting the stadium deal finalized would be a great step forward in the Kings quest to return to glory.